All posts by joyce

Choosing the Best Baratza Grinder for YOU (revised)


What grinder is best for me? This question has popped up more than a few times in this Support department, I hope that this blog will help inform and educate how to optimize your grinder selection for your caffeination needs.
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of brew method(s) you plan on employing. Next, think about how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Coffee, like all things, can be a basic pleasure, or a scientific art. Having expensive equipment definitely helps procure good extractions, but spending gobs of money is not going to guarantee you delicious shots, beautiful art or delicate flavors in your pourover. Those things come from practice, understanding, and appreciation of the process. Are you interested in drinking a tasty cup of coffee, and that is all? Do you want to find the perfect balance of complimentary notes in your manual extraction? Or, do you want to pull an exact 30 second, two ounce with crema shot (or whatever parameters you prefer) and have the ability to change the shot time in increments as small as one second?
We have two different families of grinder models- conical and flat burr grinders. The discussion of which is better between conical vs flat burrs could be compared to the argument of Ford vs Chevy; people will stick to their side of the argument tooth and nail depending on personal preference. I can only speak specifically to the pros and cons of Baratza conical and flat burr grinders. All of our grinders are designed to grind per dose, they are not intended for batch grinding- that is, they are not intended to grind a whole pound of coffee through in one shot.
The current conical lineup includes the Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso. These grinders all have 40mm conical burrs made in Liechtenstein. We pride ourselves on having high carbon, hardened conical burrs excellent in quality that generally last for about five hundred pounds of coffee. The powerful DC motors are low revving compared to AC motors, spinning the burrs at ~450rpm and keeping heat transfer to the grounds down. The transmission gear layout, GB2.0, accurately meshes the helical worm shaft of the motor with the reduction gear for a smooth, direct drive transfer of power. The grind is adjusted in a cork screw type fashion, with the adjustment ring threads pulling the stationary upper burr closer or further from the rotating lower burr. Grounds retention in the machine is about a gram, which reduces the amount of purging coffee through needed. The 100+ gram capacity bin and the discharge chute are made of an anti-static plastic, which helps battle the inevitable static better than a coating.
The flat burr lineup includes the Vario, Vario W, Forté All Purpose (AP) and Forté Brew Grinder (BG). All four of these units use 54mm flat burrs, have a digital front panel capable of saving 3 preset functions, and the adjuster levers are easy to read and adjust. Grind size is adjusted by a milled metal camshaft. As you raise the adjustment lever, the lobe on the camshaft presses up against the bottom of the lower burr, decreasing the gap between the lower burr and the stationary upper burr. The same DC motor as used in the conicals powers the burr, but using a belt drive transmission that reduces noise.

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Our entry level conical burr grinder is the Encore. At $129 USD, it has a 40 setting range that produces an espresso fine grind as well the ability to grind a coarse French press grind. The Encore has an intermittent pulse button on the front of the machine as well as an on/off knob on the side. I recommend the Encore for those who do not want to commit substantial time for brewing, but understand and appreciate the benefit of fresh consistently ground coffee at home. The Encore does grind the slowest of our models, at an average rate of about a gram a second.
The Virtuoso is a step up from the Encore with a price point of $229 USD. With a sharp looking cast zinc upper casing and base, this grinder immediately catches the eye. Besides being nice to look at, it excels at a consistent coarse grind, and readily produces an espresso fine grind. Like the Encore, the Virtuoso has an intermittent pulse button, and on the side of the machine it also has a 60 second timer switch that offers a distinct advantage over the on/off switch of the Encore. The timer allows the user to roughly dose the amount of beans ground, and winds down, powering the grinder off while you prepare your filter/water/brew equipment. With a max throughput of around 2 grams a second, the Virtuoso is very efficient and quick enough for impatient coffee connoisseurs. I highly recommend the Virtuoso, as I enjoy operating mine at home for assorted manual brew methods.
The next step up in our model line, the Preciso, is directed for users who are seriously making espresso, along with manual extractions, and desire more control than the 40 step adjustment. Although the Virtuoso and Encore models will grind fine enough for espresso, a user may find it difficult to procure an exact shot time. The Preciso, at $299 USD, addresses this issue with the addition of a micro adjustment which allows users to find a grind setting in between the 40 macro steps, giving a total of 400 steps of adjustment. When pulling espresso shots the micro adjustment function can be used to adjust the shot time by as little as one second (all other variables remaining the same). I recommend the Preciso for users who are pulling shots and are controlling the other variables such as dosage, water weight, shot time, temperature, tamp pressure, and of course having fresh beans (preferably less than two weeks from the roast date).
The Vario is our ceramic flat burr grinder at $479 USD that grinds based on a time input (10.3 seconds, 15.8 seconds, etc). With macro and micro adjustment options, the Vario with the stock ceramic burrs is superb at grinding for espresso. We also offer a set of steel burrs that are designed for manual brew grinding. The digital display holds three preset times that are programmable by the user. A metal Porta Holder with dosing funnel is included with the Vario, allowing users to grind hands-free into the espresso basket with minimal mess from static spray. The regular grounds bin has a 140+ gram capacity and is made of static dissipating plastic. I recommend the Vario for espresso fanatics, and encourage heavy users to buy the Vario over the Preciso.
Mechanically speaking, the Vario-W is identical to the Vario. However, rather than grinding based on a time input, the Vario-W grinds based on a desired weight input and will grind the dose within 0.2 grams of the desired input. This allows users to control another variable in the brewing equation without additional equipment/steps. With a 300 gram maximum capacity of the load cell, the user cannot grind by weight directly into an espresso porta filter- only into the 120+ gram capacity grounds bin provided. A hopper with shutoff valve is included with the Vario-W, making it easy to remove the hopper without dumping the beans out or falling out the bottom when the hopper is removed. The Vario-W is priced at $559 USD.
At $129 USD, the Esatto is an attachment for our conical burr grinders that allows the users to grind by weight directly into the 60 gram capacity grounds bin provided, saving the user the extra step of weighing the dose on a separate scale. The Esatto has a 300 gram max cap for the scale and cannot grind by weight directly into an espresso porta filter. The Esatto fits the Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso, as well as our superseded models Maestro Plus and Baratza Starbucks Barista P/N 1MP1SP.
The Forté AP retails for $899 USD and is a more rugged version of the Vario. A perfect fit for low-volume, single origin or decaf espresso coffee grinder, we recommend it for grinding up to five pounds (2.25kg) of coffee in a day. Utilizing the same theory of operation as the Vario, the Forté has stronger transmission components, a metal grind chamber and metal levers. The metal components noticeably improve the dialing in process of extracting espresso shots.
Operationally, the Forté has both grind-by-time and grind-by-weight in one unit. Although dosing directly into the porta filter with the included metal PortaHolder can only be accomplished with grind-by-time, the Forte has a software conversion (Smart Dosing) allowing the user to most accurately dose directly into your porta filter. The Mahlkoenig ceramic burrs of the AP have a throughput rate of 2.0g/s to 3.5g/s. Designed to optimize espresso grinding, they are still capable of producing an acceptable French press coarse grind.
The Forté BG, at $919 USD, is identical to the Forté AP except the burr set. The Forté BG comes equipped with a steel burr set that was designed specifically to reduce the amount of fines found in the coarse grind. The throughput rate is 1.2 to 2.4 g/s. Although the Forté BG does not include a metal PortaHolder, the part can be purchased separately and used with the BG. With a small footprint and splendid coarse grind, the BG is an ideal match for your manual brew bar.

If you are looking for a grinder for Turkish
No Baratza grinders are designed for Turkish coffee grinding. Although our grinders are capable of producing a Turkish fine grind, the demands on the machine are high. Our grinders have a thermal overload protection circuit that will cut power to the motor if it draws a large amount. Power consumption for Turkish is great, which will cause the machine to shut down into protect mode until it has cooled down for 15 or 20 minutes- perhaps before even grinding a full dose. I have helped several customers with Baratza grinders and the intention of Turkish over the years; none in my experience have been satisfied. I recommend a hand grinder for home Turkish grinding.

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful in finding the Baratza grinder that best suits your needs and budget!

Staffing Changes at Baratza

April 17, 2015

team-sarah-smThe day has come for us to bid farewell to Sarah Dooley who has been on our team since July 2013. We’re excited for Sarah as she sets out on her new adventure that is Milk and Coffee Co..

Sarah has been a fantastic resource to Baratza in the education of our customers. She’s raised the bar of our coffee knowledge, so we can better understand and support our customers. Sarah developed an important and much used library of troubleshooting videos to assist our customers. She also worked closely with co-owner and designer, Kyle Anderson, to ensure that Baratza grinders maximize their flavor experience. We will miss Sarah’s charm, warm smile, gracious nature and her amazing cooking skills. Serious team lunches were crafted at our Bellevue HQ!

Good Luck Sarah!

IMG_0156Just in time for SCAA 2015, we were delighted to welcome Amy Elliott to the Bellevue office. Nothing like trial by fire! Right now she is doing a bit of everything for Baratza. Amy mainly works with our support and operations team, providing customer support via email and phone. She has an extensive knowledge of coffee from her days as a barista at Ladro Coffee making her well qualified to support our customers with all their grinding and brewing questions.

Her skills as a barista, and passion for Specialty Coffee have led her around the country, until she settled in the Northwest just last year. Her husband Chris Elliott handles marketing at Slayer, and Amy has extensive connections in the world of Specialty Coffee. Prior to being in coffee Amy was involved in social work at a pregnancy clinic, counseling women in crisis. This challenging experience helps her engage and support our customers with calmness and patience.

Amy says that she’s “excited about our products” and happy to share her knowledge with us. She likes our strong familial atmosphere, especially the communal lunches! At home, Amy enjoys brewing with a Chemex and often enjoys Seattle’s vibrant espresso culture. We are thrilled that she will now be part of that team, sharing her extensive coffee knowledge and supporting our customers.

Welcome Amy!

Got Itt – Baratza partner!

Pierce Jens and Quinn Anderson, both brilliant and seasoned Baratza tech specialists have joined forces to create their own company, Got Itt. They are focused on the design and manufacture of parts and accessories that enhance our existing grinder product range. Their first available product is a Timer Switch Conversion Kit for the Encore, and soon to come to market will be an all-metal portafilter holder for our conical burr grinders. We’re delighted to share that Pierce and Quinn will be joining us in the booth to share their products and stories of adventures into the world of entrepreneurship, design and manufacturing! Their initial funding will be via Kickstarter and we’ll post information as it becomes available. Please be sure to stop by the booth to see them and/or check out their website here. Their products will be available directly through the Got Itt website.


SCAA/Baratza Happenings 2015


Baratza at SCAA 2015 – BOOTH 10041 (South Hall)

Wow – only one week away from The Event that is #SCAA2015. Once again, we’ll be in our hometown of Seattle for this 27th Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo! It’s going to be a hugely exciting few days of connecting with our customers and the Specialty Coffee community – at our headquarters, in our booth, at parties, at competitions, and all over town! It feels like we will be everywhere! We’re excited to be a part of so many brewing set ups from pop up cafes to in-booth for support of product demoes. Our sincere thanks in advance to all our customers and partners who have chosen to use our grinders at the Event. Here’s what we’ve go going on – so far!

All day, every day – Kyra Kennedy and Kyle Anderson, Baratza co-owners and fearless leaders will be in the booth, as well as Joyce Klassen (Marketing), Sarah Dooley (Education), Karen Kawaguchi (International Operations) plus Colin Francois, Pierce Jens and Amy Elliott from our support team! Come and check out our complete line up of grinders – home and commercial. In addition, we’ve got some new accessories from a new local start-up called Got Itt!

Baratza BrewBar:

Come taste great coffee from a rotation of wonderful roasters, including Stumptown, Tony’s, IPC, Anodyne, Temple, ChocolateFishCoffee, Kuma and Klatch.

We have a brilliant line up of Special Guests this year. The daily schedule will go out soon.

  • US Brewers Cup top 3 winners: Sarah Anderson (Intelligentsia Coffee, LA), Jenny Bonchak (Slingshot Coffee, Raleigh, NC), Todd Goldsworthy (Klatch Coffee, LA) brewing their magic
  • Mark Prince pulling shots of espresso on the GS/3
  • James Tooill (La Colombe) US Cup Tasters Champion, brewing on the Dragon
  • Andy Newbom of IPC sharing his love of Mexican coffees
  • Sarah Dooley (Milk&Coffee Co) and Jill Smith (Pure Eire Dairy) reviving us with Affogatos – yes, you read it right!



World Aeropress Championship, happening on Thursday at Within Sodo. Top 3 in the world will be heading to their respective countries, grinders in hand! Details.

Java Jog – Friday morning, Team Baratza will be walking early to support Women in Coffee in Ethiopia. If you’d like to help support this important work at origin please donate here: Java Jog for a Cause.

Cup Taster’s Challenge – Friday at 7pm ‪@stumptowncoffee on 12th Ave. Follow NWCupTasters for all the latest details.


Need help finding all the booths and events? Download the SCAA App or follow us on Twitter @Baratza or same name on Instagram!

Be sure to stop by the booth to say hello. See you next week!!

Recalibration of a Conical Burr Grinder

by Pierce Jens, Technical Support
grounds bin lowres_TSH0046

The amount of information that is at the tip of our fingers, thanks to the Internet, is a powerful asset. Unfortunately this power can be bad as well as good, for information can be skewed or misinterpreted and then shared. I wish to set straight some aspects of our grinders and troubleshooting info that I have seen misinterpreted by do-it-yourself-at-home grinder repair folks.
The calibration adjustment of each of our conical coffee grinders is in place for us to use at the factory during manufacturing. Each of the individual parts that compose any assembly, including our grinders, has a manufacturing tolerance- whether it be in millionths of a micrometer or in fractions of an inch, everything that is made will have slight variations in size. After assembling the grinder, we use the calibration adjustment to standardize the burr touch time of the unit, so as to ensure the proper range of grind size will come out when you adjust the grind between 0 and 40.

Adjusting the calibration screw of your grinder will shift the grind range, but it does not affect consistency. Let us take an example. If you enjoy your Chemex extraction made with setting 22 on your Virtuoso, adjusting the calibration screw finer will shift your preferred grind setting to 24, or perhaps 26. On the other hand, if you were to adjust the calibration screw to a coarser slot, then your preferred grind setting will shift down- perhaps setting 20 or 18 will result in your favorite extraction.

The only reason to recalibrate a conical grinder would be if the grind produced at setting 1 is not fine enough, or the grind produced at setting 39 is not coarse enough. If the grinder was getting fine or coarse enough, and now is suddenly not, chances are good that following our “How to Troubleshoot a Grind Quality Issue’ video will reveal the culprit. Recalibration may be needed with older/well used units to compensate for burr wear.

Baratza Production Expansion in Taiwan

We feel gratified to share that Baratza grew at a rate of 66% last year Internationally, and over 30% in the US, per year, for the last 5+ years! The ongoing interest and demand for Specialty Coffee, and quality grinders to grind it, has fueled this growth. Keeping up with this demand has presented exciting challenges for our factory in Taichung, Taiwan. Last year, together with our main partner/supplier, PSI, we began the process of building a new factory for Baratza’s grinder production.

Under the guidance of PSI owner Leo Fu, and Brenda Fu, the General Contractor, a beautiful new factory has been built to allow us the space and capacity to continue our growth. Just last week, Baratza Co-Owners, Kyra Kennedy and Kyle Anderson, joined our Taiwan team for a fun Chinese New Year party, and celebration of the new building. Of the 80 or so people at the party, we welcomed many of our close suppliers, factory workers and their families. We now have about 30,000 square feet of production area and new offices, all of it beautifully decorated and ready for a bright future. We are pleased to announce we will begin production in the new factory on March 3 and more pictures of the factory will come, after we are up and running!

Pictured below left to right are: Brenda Fu, Doug & Barb Garrott of Orphan Espresso, Leo Fu, Kyra Kennedy, Kyle and Carole Anderson.

Life Expectancy of Burrs

by Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Founder and Chief Engineer

People ask us all the time about life expectancy of their burrs. It’s hard to give a hard and fast rule as the life expectancy of a burr varies, depending on the type of coffee, degree of roast, grind size, volume ground, and any rocks you may run into! The increasingly popular lighter roasted beans tend to be a lot harder on the burrs. However, as a good rule of thumb you can expect the burrs on our grinders to last as follows:

  • Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso and flat steel burrs (Vario and Forté) – 500-1000 pounds of coffee
  • Ceramic burrs (Vario and Forté) – 1000 to 1500 pounds of coffee

Forte ceramic burr_TSH4472lr

So, take my household for example, I mainly use a Forté-AP to grind for espresso. My household, plus some of the Baratza team, makes about 12 double shots a day, each dosed at 20 grams. The Forté-AP is grinding 240 grams a day or around 87,600 grams/year. There are 453 grams of coffee in a pound. So I am grinding about 193 pounds/year. This number is a little low since once a month I use my grinder to cater a coffee hour at our clubhouse and serve about 100 drinks. So I estimate that I grind about 198 pounds of coffee a year. Therefore, my Forté-AP burrs should last about 5 to 7 years!

It is difficult to know when to change the burrs. One clear indication that it is time for new burrs is if your grinder is not capable of grinding coarse any more. If you have questions or issues about your burrs and grinding, we have some great technical support videos on our YouTube Channel and grinder specific, frequently asked questions, here on our website’s troubleshooting page. I encourage you to check these out.

Baratza Travel – Safe & Strong!

For years we’ve had people asking about tough, protective cases to use when they take their Baratza grinders on the road for demos, pop-ups, catering, competitions and more! We developed one as special thank you and it seems like it got a bit of attention after some pictures were posted! If you’d like one, you can make a special order!

So here’s what it looks like:
IMG_20141226_131335IMG_20141226_131355The Details:
Made by: Pelican
Size: Medium
Fit: Can be customized to fit any Baratza grinder (yes indeed!)
Price: $120 plus shipping and taxes (includes customized fitting for your existing grinder)
Timeline: 2 weeks from ordering
How to Order:Email with your order, we’ll call to get your credit card details before processing the order.

Safe Travels!

Grinding for Espresso – Metal vs Ceramic Burrs

by Sarah Dooley and Pierce Jens

Forte ceramic burr_TSH4472lrSince the introduction of the Forte AP and BG grinders, the team at Baratza has been doing a lot of taste testing on both grinders. With regards to tasting espresso specifically, we have noticed that the ceramic burrs produce a traditional espresso flavor profile. They are great for blends and particularly coffees roasted for espresso. The cup flavors are complex, and usually have more body and mouth feel in comparison to the steel burrs (depending on the coffee).

The steel burrs have been engineered to produce a more even particle distribution and less fines. These burrs are ideal for pourover, batch, or home brewers and what we have termed, a “modern style espresso”.

FORTE holding steel burr_TSH4540 hiTo expand a little on the term “modern style espresso” – we feel that espresso with our steel burrs tastes different, due to the lack of fines (or the very small grind particles) in the particle grouping. Overall, the ground coffee is more similar in size, especially in comparison to our ceramic burrs. The results in flavor profile are more simple flavors and a clean mouth feel. We like this burr set for single origin coffees not necessarily limited to coffees roasted for espresso or called espresso roast.

Which set is best for you? Oddly when we did a side-by-side taste test our test audience was split down the middle on preferences. The biggest differences really came into play for taste when we separated coffees roasted for espresso and coffees not roasted for espresso. With that isolated variable the ceramic had more sweetness for coffees roasted for espresso and the steel burrs clarity of flavor seemed better for espresso, with coffees at production or non-espresso roasts.

In the end, it’s what tastes best to you. We don’t even pretend to know how to tell you how to taste and are just sharing our taste experiences thus far. We hope our opinion has been of assistance!

Baratza Discount to Barista Guild of America (BGA) Members

To support the members of BGA who have chosen to join this organization for their professional development we now offer a special discount on our grinders!

We are offering 25% off MSRP pricing online at the Baratza website, plus free shipping (within the US). One grinder purchase only per year. BGA Members need to enter a special code when checking out of the online store. Forté AP and Forté BG not included in this offer

To get the discount code: Log into your profile via (all guild sites also route to the login page at and once logged in, go to “Digital Library” as a link on your profile. Once you click the Digital Library, you can access your benefits packet. The code is in the benefits packet!